Mental Health and Wellness · Pregnancy and Motherhood

It’s Cool to be Kind

I haven’t written anything in a while because I’ve been through quite a lot in the last few months. I will address my struggles on another post, but to summarize I was dealing with extreme workplace bullying from my boss. Something I never thought would happen to me, and something that almost broke me. I wasn’t the only victim though, and after almost 20 years at the organization, this bully was finally let go this week.

I work for a prominent “top 5 in America” healthcare facility, and after many incidents, I am currently on a weird leave from my position, where I’m not even sure when or how I’m going to return. I say this to illustrate how you can encounter bullies just about anywhere and at any point in your life.

Daily I think about the way my director treated me and how she influenced people around her to do the same. It didn’t matter how nice I was, how hardworking, or funny. They decided to target me and nothing I said or did would change that. I learned a hard lesson these past few months, sometimes people just don’t like you, sometimes people will be mean to you, no matter how good you are, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

As a mom though, I feel like I owe it to the world to not raise another bully, another person who makes others question their existence on this earth. I’m quite aware that ultimately it is not up to me, the type of person my daughter decides to be when she grows up. But I will sure as hell make a conscious effort to show her (and any future siblings) how it’s so much cooler to be kind.

Kindness starts with us, as parents, so yes, I’m going to ensure that please, and thank you is a part of my kid’s vocabularies. I’m going to lead by example and show them how kindness goes beyond human interactions, but extends to the planet. I won’t be the overbearing parent who overtly pushes an agenda, but I will ask them to not litter, and to not add to the trash and pollution in an unnecessary manner.

I will ask them to be gentle with animals, and to share their toys, the importance of charity, actually listening to others and saying kind words.

Above all though, I’m gonna ask my children to put themselves in the shoes of others. Before you say something, before you react, think about what you’re about to say and how it would affect the other person. How would you feel if this was said to you? And if they say it anyway, and their words or actions bring pain, please be big enough to apologize. We all make mistakes, we all react negatively to situations, we retaliate when hurt, because we’re human, but never be afraid to say I’m sorry.

Of course I also need to help my kids to navigate the thin lines between kindness and having the strength and courage to not be pushovers, but there’s so many people who successfully strike this balance everyday so I have hope for the future.

If you’re reading this, I beg you to think hard about how your words and behavior affects others, what you say can literally be the difference between someone choosing life or death. This is the reality of the world we live in today, so please, be kind.

xo

Nic

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Pregnancy and Motherhood

The Best (Cheap) Breast Pump Ever!

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So, I’m sitting here the week before I return to work after six months of maternity leave, mentally preparing to start pumping more often. For the last six months, I’ve done on-demand feedings, and only pumped a handful of times when I had to leave my daughter briefly to get something done. The pump I used on those occasions was the Spectra S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump. It’s highly rated on Amazon and I got it free from my insurance, but honestly it made me HATE pumping. It pinches my nipples, yet at the same time doesn’t hold them snug enough, particularly when things get really milky. People seem to love it, but it’s never been particularly a good fit for me and my barely there nipples.

Obviously the thought of being hooked up to the S2 several times a day made me cringe so I set out to find a good, portable pump for the office. Someone told me about a pump you suction to your boobs and you can walk around without anyone being aware that you’re pumping, but I didn’t feel like spending a lot of money for a work pump, plus I have my own office for privacy so I decided to do a bit more research and found the new love of my life. The Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump with Stimulation and Expression Modes. Yes, you read that correctly, MANUAL. Initially I thought that manual breast pumps had gone the way of the dinosaur but in reading the reviews I was convinced, and at $21, I felt it was definitely worth a shot (and the risk)!

What’s in the box:

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

When you open the box, it includes 2 flange sizes (standard 25mm & large 30.5mm), a naturalwave nipple, cap & collar, all for ideal suction, storage and feeding. There’s also nursing pad and storage bag samples. To get my little breast milk stash going I also bought four extra storage bottles from the same brand (because they were cheap) and my absolute favorite Kiinde Twist Pouch storage bags to go along with the pump.

Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Twist Pouch

Review:

What I love about this pump, is that it’s not only ergonomic so it doesn’t hurt my hands but it’s also super comfortable and pain free. It’s really lightweight and portable so it can fit in my purse or my daughter’s diaper bag, I can use it in the car, on a plane ride or any other place where I don’t have electricity. This excites me to no end because as soon as the weather gets nice, we have so many outdoor plans. I don’t have to be tethered to any wires, which quite frankly drives me crazy. Most importantly though, is the expression, which I give a 10/10! I got 4 ounces in a little less than 15 minutes, my milk was absolutely flowing, and it’s no fluke, I get consistent results with every single use.

Results after first pumping session

Final Thoughts:

I really bought this pump to do quick pumps at work to help keep my milk supply up, but I’ve found myself using this exclusively in place of my electric pump. It’s so much more effective at encouraging let down and I love not having to put parts together before pumping, I just grab it and get started. It’s actually finally encouraged me to have a small freezer stash. So whether you’re looking for a portable travel pump, you want something to collect excess milk or you’re looking for just a great pump that doesn’t break the bank, do yourself a favor and give this little guy a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

 

-xo

Nic

Home and Family Life · Pregnancy and Motherhood

How I plan to create a happy, healthy home for my daughter

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When I think back on my childhood I feel melancholy. The overarching thoughts in my head being about how I wished things were different. I appreciate that I was able to go to swim lessons, dance classes, I had lots of clothes, shoes, and material items, but if I had to be 100% honest, they did nothing for me. I spent a large chunk of my years with my grandparents and they were great but I do not recall ever being hugged, told I love you or receiving any sort of real affection from them.

Internally I was a sad and nervous child that really always second guessed herself all the time. I always tell my husband stories of going on field trips and seeing moms chaperoning, or about the birthday that my mom wasn’t there for but she paid for me to have a really nice party. Or about how I really had no one to talk to about my feelings or play with being an only child. I lived in my head a lot, thinking and overthinking.

Despite how I felt, my feelings were never actually communicated to anyone because nobody ever asked me how I felt. Yes, I had stuff, but when I think back on my childhood I don’t remember any of it. I remember feeling sad, anxious and lonely. I remember my feelings not my stuff. I remember that my mom was not there at the party but not one detail otherwise, I remember feeling sad about never having a parent involved in the mundane school activities but not the activities themselves. So when I had a daughter, I felt compelled to not recreate history, and to do what it takes to not be a perfect mom, but a mom who does her best to create a stable, happy and healthy space for my baby to grow up in. Some of the things I plan to do are:

Communicate, because kids have feelings too

One day on his way to work, my husband overheard a conversation between a mom and her son on the sidewalk. She asked him why he seemed so deep in thought and he said “because I have a lot on my mind”. His mom’s response was “you can’t have a lot on your mind, you’re fiveeeeee”. It was a cute little story but I definitely don’t share the same feelings as this mama. Ever since I was pregnant I was aware of Eden’s feelings, because she is a person. So I was always thinking about how she felt and what was best. So when she is able to actually talk to us, we will begin talking to her about feelings, to ensure that we establish healthy lines of communication. I want her to be able to come to us with anything, because things that may seem small to us are actually big in the world of kids. Plus, if she is ever in a position of needing to talk about a bad experience, whether bullying or some other type of hurt, I want to be her safe place.

Show her lots of affection

I love my baby, and I let her know exactly how much every single day. So much so, that she might think that my lips are a permanent part of her face. Both my husband and I are beyond affectionate with her and she loves it. We have so many pictures of her squealing with excitement as we kiss and cuddle her. I plan to continue to hold her hand, kiss her, hug her and tell her I love her 37464833 times a day. I hope that it will be the foundation for her future relationships and a daily reminder that I do care about her. I will also show her affection when she does something wrong, so that she knows my love is unconditional, regardless of the circumstance.

Be a model mommy

Not like Naomi Campbell or anything like that. But the role model type of model. Children are super perceptive and pick up on everything. So I plan to constantly work on myself to be the best person I can be. I plan to speak to her father with respect, treat people with kindness, and to watch my words and how I speak to others. I also plan to love myself because I want her to view herself in a favorable light, from her hair, to her skin, and everything in between. I feel strongly that this all begins with me. I want her to be kind, respectful and confident so that when she faces the world she can hold her head up and be proud of who she is.

Give her lots of quality time

Literally 4 months before the birth of my daughter I got a promotion. The promotion I always wanted! I work at a prominent medical center and moved to America in 2015 so this was an achievement for me! I was so excited at all the possibilities and thought of all the things I could do with the extra cash we would have. But now I see things totally differently. The thing is, if I keep my career momentum going I will be able to give my daughter so much, but I will also miss out on a lot. So my husband and I had to discuss what was truly best for our family. We ultimately decided that best was for me to give her more time as she grows up. By no means do I plan to stop working altogether, but in the coming years I will no longer be in charge of a department. My primary job will be chaperoning field trips, planning birthdays, holidays and making sure I’m healthy mentally and physically so that I can be there for my family. It was not the easiest decision for me, because I wanted my daughter to see her mom as a boss (lol), a leader in this amazing organization. But, ultimately when she looks back on her childhood, I want her to remember her fun childhood experiences, and I do not want those memories to be tarnished by the fact that her mother was not there.

Create meaningful experiences

Speaking of experiences. I plan to travel with my little family. We have so many places we want to see. Right here in New York, the US and around the world. I want Eden to see, learn and respect other cultures. I want her to see how other people live so that she can have a greater appreciation for her life. I want us to travel and get on each other’s nerves and just be outside of our comfort zone together. These are the types of memories that will last a lifetime and I hope to God her father and I can make it all happen.

Cultivate a safe and comfortable environment

When I was pregnant I was obsessed with the idea of finding a nice home to bring our daughter to. It was SO important and we definitely cut it close. So close that we closed on a purchase just two weeks before her birth. It’s in a nice quiet neighborhood with huge trees, good schools and parks nearby. She has her own room that we plan to make into whatever she wants it to be, so that it can be her sanctuary, a place to chill alone or with friends. We won’t be fake perfect parents but we also plan to not expose her to animosity, yelling or fighting because it makes kids feel awkward and crappy, so that just won’t be a thing in my house.

I am really hopeful that creating this positive environment would help to develop a confident, emotionally intelligent and happy little human, who is not bogged down by shitty memories, and above all I think that’s my biggest goal as a mother.

 

xo

-Nic

Mental Health and Wellness · Pregnancy and Motherhood

BEATING THE BURNOUT: SELF-CARE IDEAS FOR NEW MOMS

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This past week my daughter was in the middle of a developmental leap, characterized by mood swings, sleep disturbances and extreme mommy obsession. On the worst days, she breastfeeds constantly, and gets upset when I put her down for any stretch of time, she’s happy one minute, then she’s sad, it’s a total emotional roller coaster. It’s now the end of the week and I am beyond drained, both physically and mentally. So self-care has been at the forefront of my mind. I feel pretty burned out, and i’m not gonna lie, it shows. As moms, especially when you’re new to to it all, we sometimes have a hard time finding balance. Everything can get a little overwhelming, and most times, we just keep going. You can’t pour from an empty cup and if we want to continue to be the best caregivers to our children, we must first care for ourselves, so I created a list of things that I do to help me to regroup, relax and get myself back on track.

Get some sleep

I’ve been running on very little sleep daily, so much so that before motherhood, I would not have believed it was possible for a human to function this sleep deprived. While it is possible, your body really does need proper sleep to give it a chance to repair and rejuvenate. Ask for help, from your significant other, a friend, your mom, someone you trust basically. Have them sit with your kid or kids and get some sleep.

Do a simple at home facial

I love Korean sheet masks. They’re cheap, they’re moisturizing, cool and soothing. I buy a bunch and slap one on when my skin looks dull and in need of a quick pick me up. If you’re interested, these are the ones I use. Your face feels so nice afterwards and it only takes a few minutes.

Get some exercise 

Exercise is great because of the endorphins it releases. Structurally, endorphins are similar to morphine and act as natural painkillers. They bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. If you’re like me and you hate structured workouts because you’re really freakin’ tired and unmotivated, put on your favorite playlist and dance in the most carefree and uninhibited way for a few minutes, stretch, bend and just go crazy.

Spend a little time outdoors

Go for a walk. Spending time outdoors is all about the fresh air and change in scenery. It makes you happier, improves blood pressure, regulates your heart rate and helps to clear your mind a little. Even if you take your kids with you, it will do wonders for your mood.

Connect with friends

Connecting with friends doesn’t even have to mean that you go out. A nice chat on the phone helps. It’ll take your mind off of the stressful things for a little while. When I talk to my friends, I definitely like to steer the conversation away from things that are too heavy and focus on lighthearted humor because laughing makes me feel good. I mean who doesn’t like a good laugh?

Hydrate

Drink water! Hydration helps your body to perform at optimal levels. And we need to be healthy to take care of our kids. Water regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy.

Eat a nourishing meal

I often see moms complaining about missed meals, but like a car, our brains need fuel to run efficiently. In the earliest days of motherhood, despite being a huge foodie, It would be hard to find the time to eat, and it definitely made me feel like crap which left me feeling super unfocused and hangry! So now I prioritize eating and I’m a much happier person for it.

Take some deep breaths

Close your eyes. Now, take a deep breath in, pause, and think about something that makes you happy, then, slowly breathe out. Feel any better? Breathing is a powerful stress reliever that’s supposed to help you feel less anxious. There’s tons of articles online about the benefits of breathing and different methods to make it more effective. It can be done anywhere, and doesn’t cost a dime. I recently received an Apple Watch as a gift and it makes me do breathing exercises several times a day. I gotta admit that at first I thought it was total nonsense but it does indeed help.

Take a hot shower or bubble bath

Even if you’re beyond overwhelmed, getting in the shower or the bath seems to wash the stress away, even if temporary. Hot water gets your blood moving and helps to loosen up tight muscles. If you really want to take your bath to the next level, there are these awesome bath-bombs that I use, they come in a variety of scents and the best part is, they make you feel super relaxed and they don’t stain your tub.

Give yourself a manicure or pedicure

This one actually takes some time, so I don’t get to do it as often as I like which is sad, because my hands and feet do look a little scary right now. When I do have the chance however, it really has a positive impact on my mood. You really don’t need to be a master nail painter or anything to give yourself a mani/pedi. Just wash your hands or feet, put on a nice moisturizing lotion and give them a little massage. Then file your nails, put on a clear coat of nail polish if you don’t have time to do color and voila! You’re done.

Diffuse essential oils

Essential oils are an all natural way to unwind and relieve stress. They’re the perfect pick me up after a stressful day and best of all, they work in your sleep. Put a few drops into a cool mist humidifier before bed and let them work their magic. The cool mist, helps to keep the air around you moist which has tons of benefits for your skin and hair. And adding oils just makes it even better. My personal favs are lavender and eucalyptus. Lavender not only smells divine, but it reduces stress, enhances mental concentration and calms feelings of anxiety. Eucalyptus has similar effects but also has the added benefit of fighting congestion and helping you to breathe better.

Find a creative outlet (if creativity is your thing)

For me, I write. Writing has really helped me over the last few months to overcome some of my anxiety and has given me an avenue to express myself. It’s freeing and really makes me feel like I’m doing something just for me. Putting the words in my head onto paper quite literally clears my mind and if creating is your thing, start working on something, anything. Your poetry, a painting, sew, knit, whatever you want to.

Express gratitude 

There have been many studies, including one from Harvard University that have found links between expressing gratitude and overall happiness. It can help you to have a more positive and hopeful mindset, improved relationships and even help you to get better sleep. Just grab a pen and paper and write a list of things you’re grateful for each day and actively practice saying thank you to the people in your life. It really puts things into perspective, makes you feel good and gives you a greater appreciation for the good things in your life.

What are some things you do to practice self-care? I’m always open to new ideas so definitely share your feedback and ideas with me.

xo

-Nic

 

Pregnancy and Motherhood

10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Pregnant Self After 5 Months of Motherhood

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My Happy Baby

Sometimes I sit and wish for a do-over. I don’t regret anything but I wish I could relive some moments from when my daughter was a newborn. I wish that I could approach new motherhood with the insight and knowledge that I have now! How perfect would that be? Unfortunately I can’t, but if it were somehow possible, here’s what I would tell myself.

You will not drop the baby on her head

As a new mom, you’re going to have some anxiety when it comes to caring for your baby. For some it’s a little and for others like me, there’s a lot. I worried about everything including the possibility of being a klutz and dropping my baby. I mean, I had no experience with kids whatsoever, so the thought of her somehow catapulting out of my arms seemed highly plausible, along with a ton of other irrational fears. You’re going to be fine, and so will your baby.

Accept help and feel guiltless about it

Another thing I worried endlessly about was that I would some how be less of a mom if I handed my baby off for a moment so that I could practice a little self care. I think sometimes as moms we get caught up in trying to do all the things and be essentially perfect. But your baby wouldn’t think any less of you if you took time for yourself, and you would actually be a better mom for it.

Your butt hole will explode and heal eventually (I promise)

So i’ll be straight with you, nobody warned me about the butt changes that occur during pregnancy AND childbirth. First of all, stool softeners and patience will be your best friend after labor. Imagine my shock when taking my first post-labor shower, to feel that my butthole was essentially turned inside out after pushing. To make matters worst, it was hard to go the bathroom for a while after the fact because of the epidural medication. It was literal hell! I told my friend about my dilemma and she nonchalantly told me that it happens but “it’ll be back to normal soon, it’s part of the process”. Gotcha! but a little heads up would’ve been nice.

Pack your cape away for a little while

Moms are literal superheroes but listen mama, I know the dishes need to be washed, there’s a pile of laundry, you didn’t shower and your hair is dirty. But take it from me when I say. Time flies! Your baby won’t ever be this little again and one day, will not need you this much. It might be new and a bit difficult to take a step back but do yourself a favor and try. Live in the moment and do the best you can. In 20 years what will you remember more? The laundry you got done or the days spent loving on your baby?

Talk to your husband about your feelings and expectations

I have a tendency sometimes to think that my husband could literally read my mind. And I sometimes have (and still do), expect him to know what I want and how I am feeling without even saying a word. Definitely don’t do this. Be clear about your expectations and communicate. You really don’t need the added stress of household friction on top of having a newborn.

You’re going to be less judgmental of other moms

Before I had my daughter, I swore up and down that I would NOT bed share, and I was super convinced that stay at home moms had it easy, lounging around and having me time while their kids napped. Boy was I delusional! For starters, I sat upright on my sofa for weeks because my daughter refused to sleep out of my arms. One day in a fit of desperation I laid her next to me in bed and cuddled her and it was the first proper sleep I got since she was born. To this day, she still refuses to sleep without me at night. As for my notion about lounging stay at home mothers? That went out the window real quick, sometimes I struggle to even make it to the shower if my husband isn’t home. Being a mom is hard work, whether you work or stay at home.

Follow your instincts

When you have your baby, you’re going to get tons of advice from well-meaning people. But every baby is different and what worked 10 years ago isn’t necessarily best practice now. The moral of the story is, you’re the mom and you know your kid. Follow your instincts and take advice from non-professionals with a grain of salt. You got this!

There will be tears, fears, doubts and missteps but that’s OK

You will cry (boy will you cry), you will be scared, you might think you’re doing things wrong and you will make a few blunders. But guess what? It’s part of the process, and your baby will forgive you.

Breastfeeding hurts

In the beginning your nipples will definitely suffer. As long as your milk is flowing and you decide to proceed, suck it up, slap some nipple balm on those bad boys and let them get to work. In a few weeks they’ll get used to gummy bites, tugs, pulls and everything in between.

If you’re worried about being a good mom, you’ve won half the battle

At some point during your motherhood journey, you will worry about your mothering skills. I questioned myself a lot! At every step of the way I was concerned about doing everything right! I think that especially came from information overload, Facebook mommy groups, professional Instagram mommies with their perfect shots and expert opinions on what should happen and how things should be done. Seriously though, don’t get too caught up in that stuff. Every kid is different, every family is different and everyone’s circumstances are different. The fact remains that all babies aren’t born to loving, caring mothers, and while sad, I hope you realize that if you do find yourself caring enough to be worried, you already are a good mom. As long as your child is happy, screw perfection.

xo

-Nic